a true story

I saw him.

I saw him and I liked him. I had been soaring for a long time. It had been a while since I or anyone had ripped at my wings. I was sure nothing would drag me down. I knew I shouldn't bother. I saw the littered bodies around him, and I had seen who had done it to them. But this was the first time that I saw him.

I glided down, fascinated by his appearance. I landed, and I started to talk to him. It was the first time I had talked in a while. He replied. He smiled when I smiled at him. He told me his name. He became my friend, and he became my love without him ever knowing he was. He was grounded though, and I just knew I could make him grow wings like my opal ones. I took his hands, and I tried to pull him up to the skies with me. I wanted him to see the clouds the way I saw them.

He was rooted. But I was disillusioned, sure I could lift him, show him a way out, change him into someone who would be worth all the effort I put into trying to make him want to make me. I strained, I whimpered, I drove myself to the brink of insanity. Then I saw the chain around his wrist, that led off into the woods. I saw the lock that was loosely hooked to it. I must have forgotten who was at the other end of that chain. I reached for the lock, opened it, started to toss the chain away to bring him with me-

I should have never looked.

There was a blur from where the chain led off, and I only saw a glowing of green and red eyes before she struck. I barely had time to scream my shock and fright as the wild demon leapt from her hiding place, landed on my back, and started to tear into my wings with a fury I had never seen from her before. She was half dog, half human, and all feral lust and blood-seeking. The pain became more and more, growing exponentially as she shredded my wings in her teeth and claws. She ripped into my back, broke my ribs, tore my wings so badly they were pitiful shreds and hung by sinews. She grounded my flight with every ounce of power she had in that werewolf body of hers. I tried to fight back, but I was helpless.

Finally, she tossed me away, letting me tumble helplessly onto the pile of dead that had been accumulated through the years. She jerked at his chain and dragged him away from where I had been brutalized, where my blood soaked the ground and painted the grass with slick redness. I wasn't dead, but I felt like I should be—half conscious, with bloody remains where my wings once were, panting and choking on my own tears, trembling and trying to lift myself up with no success. Through the blood that was in my hair and matted my eyelashes, I saw with new vision just where the chain was being held.

She was chained. He controlled her. The chain around his wrist led to the collar on her neck, which she had never tried to twist out of. She laughed. She smirked. She let him pull her close and kissed him with my blood still on her lips and teeth. I lifted my head weakly to see the final blow delivered.

He deepened the kiss, French kissed her and let my blood soak into his clothes and mouth. One day, he might toss her out, become sick of her antics, but for now, he liked to use her as his plaything. He was happy with her reaction. He didn't give a damn about me. The most important person in his life was him.

My eyes widened. I felt the pain as much as if he had kicked me. I lost the energy to hold up my head. I cried harder, letting my tears mix with my blood. I threw up. I gave up my life. I died on the pile of his other victims, ruined beyond repair.

And Darkness revived me. It swamped me. It made me again, but not into who I was before.

My eyes went a solid black, blinding me with hurt and revenge. It sealed my wings and grew them back in whole and strong, at first a dull grayish-red, but then metamorphosing into a black that sucked all light from the air around it. The wounds sealed shut, but the pain inside became more. I never thought to push it away. I became the tool of the Darkness.

I screamed—an unholy, frightening scream that sent animals around dashing for safety and running. The pair startled. And he ran, ran from me, scrambled away with the other creatures. She stood there, the chain still loose around her neck, still wearing my blood. She saw me rise to my feet. She saw me look at her, snarl, flash a set of teeth that would have put Dracula to shame. She saw me flash claws, let my wings lift me from the pile. But she never moved.

That's when I dove at her. I moved faster than light, a black blur, my claws flashing. When I landed behind her, I saw I had ripped her cheek so deeply I could see her teeth coated with her own blood. She rose and glared at me, and parted her lips to roar. I roared first, my voice registering the pain of years, and deafening any around me. She stood, silent in shock, and she saw the look in my eyes. The dark unholiness that I had become. And she took off, blood trailing behind her.

I could have followed. I could have hunted her down and sliced her open and drank her blood and swallowed her organs while they were still warm and freshly ripped from her body. But I didn't. The Darkness did not work that way. I leapt into the air again, letting my wings flap. Each time they moved, something tore through me like a knife in my stomach, but I tried to ignore it. My cries of pain were still fresh in my mind. Oh, no, I hissed silently, the black aura becoming intertwined with my now-damaged soul. No one would ever hurt me like he had hurt me. I would never let myself get that close again.

But inside, fighting the Darkness with everything inside of her, a part of me cried. She fought. She struggled. She felt the pain I ignored, and intensified it inside herself. She wanted to regain control, even if her only motivation was to destroy the beast I was now.

Finally, the pain became overwhelming. It hurt to breathe, to move, to maintain myself this way. I could not deny that The Darkness was strength. It was power beyond what my fragile body could handle. It fed off the blood of others, the pain I caused as I flew, the ones whose ran in fear from me. I fed off the hate others had for me, letting it become part of me. And it ate me from the inside out like a sick poison.

I gave up. I knew that if I let the Darkness possess me any longer, I would kill my soul. I fought myself, I cut myself, I tried over and over to get the pain to end as I injured myself in an effort to make it go away. Repetitively, like a macabre ritual, I took the knives and claws and teeth to my skin and tried to make it leave me. And every time, it came back, it repossessed me, it made the armor that tightened on me thicker—as though it wanted to suffocate any bit of hope that was inside. I just couldn't take it. I took my own claws, and I made them slice my arms till the pain was blinding. I was killing myself in order to make it go away. And for a second, the Darkness dropped its guard. It was all it took.

The me that had hid, waiting, believed it could not fix me now. There was only one answer. She reached, and she grabbed the only knife on my body that I hadn't thrown away. Before the darkness could put up the armor, she shoved the knife into my chest to the hilt.

The scream that erupted from my bloody lips shook the heavens. A scream of agony, pain, release, and destruction. The black wings froze mid-flap, stiffened, spasmed, and then exploded partially in a whirlwind of feathers and blood. The black blinders over my eyes shattered and sliced my cheeks, and the teeth in my mouth ripped into my lips, making me taste my own blood. I gasped and slumped over as the dark aura ripped out of me in a graphic display like a star going supernova. The knife melted, sank into my hands and skin and left my clothes a bloody mess. It locked around my heart and lungs, cold and metallic. It stopped my breathing, my heartbeat, my life. I was approaching death. The wings slumped down, letting go of the dark air that had powered them.

I had succeeded. The Darkness was gone. But half my soul had been ripped out with it. My eyes slipped shut, my hands let go of the fabric of my top they had gripped, and I flung my arms above my head as though I was clawing for the surface as I started to plummet towards the ground I could not see.

I could never have told how long I fell, blind to all but the pain I was in. I don't know how close I came to hitting that ground below me. To the end of it all, to closing the book on my life and throwing it into the fireplace. I do not know who I passed in my fall, who I saw, who made grabs for me and missed, who let go when I was too heavy for them, who I threw myself from and who did not bother to reach. I do not know any of this.

And I don't want to remember, so don't tell me.

I do remember the halting jerk that stopped me. There was a hand that grabbed my flailing one, that snatched me tightly around the wrist and snapped me up and out of my plummet. My eyes didn't even open in shock. They squeezed tighter shut, shivering as I was pulled into a set of arms and held close before I could fight. My wings dangled behind me, a dead weight. Whoever this person was, he was holding both of us up. I listened to the heart beat as I was pressed close, frightened that he might think of me too much of a burden and throw me off him, like many before him. I kept my eyes squeezed shut in fear, terrified.

"Hello," a gentle voice said to me, calming and dissipating my fears in that one word. I opened my eyes, and I turned to look up into a pair of brown eyes in a face I had never seen before. He was gorgeous. I ducked my face, blushing, and was speechless for one of the first times in my life. This was the first time I had been caught and actually held since I had fallen. Normally, I hit the ground and ended up hurt. Then I saw, out the corner of my eye, that if he hadn't caught me, I would have hit the ground with such a force and speed I would have died on impact—and I would have hit soon. I shut my eyes again, then looked up again into those calm, relaxing brown eyes. I stared silently into those eyes looking at me and that last thought I had had once, of never letting anyone close to me again, dissipated like a bad dream.

"Well," he said, smiling, "are you going to talk to me or do I just get the pleasure of looking at you? Not that I object," he added, blushing slightly as complimented me. I blushed even more at the compliment, the first one I had received in years. He saw a tree and aimed towards it, landing and then setting me down to sit in his lap. I winced as I sat, the sudden pain in my wings coming back to me in a rush.

"You're hurt," he said, reaching over and touching my tattered wings. I winced reflexively, expecting it to hurt. But his touch was gentle, and I felt a healing aura fill me as he started to brush the blackness and blood away, like dust on a mantle. The weight that had locked around my chest disappeared, and I started to breathe again. With his help, my wings started to knit together, strengthen, and weakly flap to support me. As they started to hold me up, his grip started to loosen, just a little. But he never let go. He kept holding me close, touching my wings and brushing the dried blood and tears from my cheeks and clothes. The blackness and blood flaked off, letting a pure white glow come around me. Even when my wings were flapping freely with a strength and shimmer that I had never had before, he held me close. I wrapped my arms around him, still gazing into his eyes.

"Well," he asked, "does a gorgeous angel as yourself have a name?"

I nodded, stammering a little and speaking quietly. "Tasha. My name is Tasha."

"Well, my darling Tasha, my name is Brent."

"Brent." I whispered the name to myself, locking it in my mind forever. Then I looked at him and smiled. It was my first sincere smile in years. "My Brent-angel."

He blushed at the name I had given him. "Thank you," he said.

"Thank you for catching me."

He squeezed my hand gently, bonding us together for eternity. "You ready to fly again, my darling?" he asked, looking at me with those big beautiful eyes of his. I could see how much he loved me in those eyes, and I knew he could see how much I loved him.

I nodded, feeling energy flow into my wings with a touch never before felt. He completed me. He strengthened me. He was the other half of my soul. And he had caught me, crossing my path when I needed him most. He held my hand tightly, as we leapt off the branch. The wind caught our wings and we soared upward into the sky as a pair.

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